With 37 Passport Issuance Authorities, 91 state-of-the-art Passport Seva Kendra (PSKs) across the country, the project has expanded the reach of passport services, ensured service delivery in a transparent manner with greater security and reliability. A Tier III Data Centre and an active-active Disaster Recovery Centre have been set up with 24X7 operations, says Golok Kumar Simli, Chief of Technology, Passport Seva, in an interview with Gautam Debroy of Elets News Network (ENN).
What makes Passport Seva Kendra easily accessible to the people?
The Ministry of External Affairs has initiated the Passport Seva program to make passport related services convenient and easily accessible at their vicinity through a blend of process transparency and accountability to the citizens as part of passport issuance ecosystem. To realise this vision, the ministry has extended its reach through 37 Regional Passport Offices (RPOs), 93 Passport Seva Kendras (PSKs) and over 200 Post Office Passport Seva Kendras (POPSKs) across the country. The project has been implemented by the Ministry of External Affairs in Public-Private-Partnership with Tata Consultancy Services as the Service Partner.
The project demonstrates how innovative use of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) can transform the way citizens receive services from Government institutions. The entire process of citizen service delivery has been automated. The citizens feel alleviated right from application filing to delivery of Passports at their residence. At every stage of the issuance process, the citizens are informed the status of their application through various mode of digital communication, equally empowering them to appeal and lodge grievances transparently, in case of delay. The idea was to completely revamp and overhaul the service delivery mechanism keeping citizens at the core.
What latest technology initiatives you have adopted in your department?
The Digital India drive by the Central Government envisions delivery of citizen services in a transparent, efficient, accountable and convenient environment through streamlined processes and committed, trained and motivated workforce.
The digital journey and the transformation in the Indian Passport services present a unique example of success for others to learn from and emulate. The technology sits at the core of the passport delivery system. Not only the entire processes and interfaces with the citizens and other stakeholders has been made online but harnessing the potential of latest and modern technology has always been the priority of the department, be it Mobility, Cloud or Analytics. A Tier III Data Centre and an active Disaster Recovery Centre have been set up with 24X7 operations. The state-ofart Network Operation Centre (NOC) and 24X7 Security Operation Centre (SOC) provides a sense of ownership and guided watchdog for the security sensitive passport related data and information. The system has built in interoperability to exchange information with other government departments. As the ecosystem around the passport services continues to evolve, further improvements in efficiency, elasticity and effectiveness would always be the core vision of the ministry.
How do you define your reach to the remotest corner of India?
With 37 Passport Issuance Authorities, 91 state-of-the-art PSKs across the country, the project has expanded the reach of Passport services, ensured service delivery in a transparent manner, in a comfortable environment with greater security, reliability and within defined service levels. The Government has recently announced the Post Office Passport Seva Kendra (POPSK) to provide larger reach to the citizens for submission and processing of applications related to Passport services. As on June 5, 2018, more than 200 POSPKs have been made operational across the country. The ministry has also launched mPassport Seva App for citizens, which would enable them to submit their passport application through hand-held devices including online payment and scheduling of appointment at any of the PSK/POSPK. The aim is to provide a passport facilitation centre within a radius of 50 km from applicant’s place of residence. A host of Application Program Interface (APIs) have also been created for integration with external Government entities like the Digital Locker scheme and other eGovernance Mission Mode Projects (MMPs) such as Crime and Criminal Tracking Network and Systems (CCTNS), National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID), Income Tax, Permanent Account Number (PAN), Electors Photo Identity Card (EPIC) etc. in the future. All these initiatives have one common aim – making passport issuance process easy and speedy for the citizens.
Do you take the help of private players while implementing your projects?
The ground reality is the result of composition of the core pillars of Passport Seva viz. citizen immediacy, process overhauling and digital infrastructure that has increased the citizens’ experience and assurance level to the maximum. The success also deserves equal appreciation for playing a critical role in creating a strong foundation for the core pillars/ aspects to evolve and adhere. These aspects include the systemic resources, bold leadership, win-win publicprivate-partnership (involvement of private player) model, effective change management approach, and ecosystem evolution. The business model being followed in Passport Seva ensures
- Minimal investment by the Government;
- Best-in-Class Processes, System and People;
- Protection against Technology Obsolesce;
- Quick and Easy Staff augmentation;
- Better Working Condition and
- Enhancement of Skills and better utilisation. The involvement of private players allows the department to effectively utilise the scarce manpower resources.
What challenges do your generally face?
There is a marked departure from the earlier practice where the citizens had to travel a long distance and wait for hours in the queue at the Passport Office, submit a lot of attested documents and would need to visit again and again in want of clarifying doubts, filing of missing papers etc. The exceptions were also discovered at a later point, for which the applicants were asked to reach out to their respective Passport Offices. Now, an end-to-end process is enabled by the underlying robust IT and digital infrastructure. Passport Seva Program (PSP) has gone the digital way, setting an example of a true digital enterprise. Some of the remarkable digital take away points of Passport Seva are:
- Anytime, anywhere access
- Process transparency and accountability
- Governance to e-Governance to m-Governance
- Technology adding to its business value by leveraging the digital platform Dashboard, Reporting and Analytics helping Citizens, Stakeholders and Management
The challenges were many which most Government initiatives pass through. However, careful planning, well thoughtout strategy and focused-outcome oriented outcome in mind with aim for long term sustainability make the project a success story to emulate and replicate by others.